The Obama Health Care Plan:Hazardous to Your Health
by Sylvia Bokor
On June 25 a town hall meeting was held in Rio Rancho, New Mexico to discuss Obama's health care plan. The meeting opened with a televised study of the Canadian and UK's health care plans. Afterwards, a factual report of the Obama plan was presented. Listening to it, I felt like I was in 1938 Germany listening to someone explaining Nazi proposals to crush everyone under an iron boot.
The Obama plan is a full-scale collectivization of America, of our lives and of our relationship with our government. It is the undiluted destruction of our individual right to life and property, a denial of the right to choose what to buy, from whom to buy it, how much we choose to pay and at what time we choose to pay it.
It proposes to tell doctors and others working in the medical industry what to do, and what to charge, what treatments to offer, and what prescriptions are permitted. It proposes to tell patients who they may have access to, what treatments they may have, how long they must wait for treatment and whether---as in the case of those over 70 years of age---they will be treated at all. On top of all that, it forces earners/producers to pay for what they do not want.
It spreads its fetid breath over every aspect of health care. The result is total control of every citizen's well being and ultimately of every citizen's life. It is not a health care plan. It is the destruction of individual rights and the transformation of our nation into a socialist state. This is the "change" Obama promised. He meant it then. He means it now.
Obama's universal health care plan proposes to force American earners/producers to pay the medical bills for every United States resident, whether a citizen or not. The same idea in principle was tried in New York City many years ago with welfare checks. Every moocher, looter, free-loader, malingerer and other form of parasite dwelling elsewhere, moved to NYC to take the checks that New Yorkers were forced to pay. Within John V. Lindsey's first term, the city was swamped with "migrants" who lived on welfare, cluttering the city's streets, esplanades and parks. With Obama's "medical care for every resident," the result will be the same and very likely considerably worse.
Additionally, the plan requires by law that everyone have health insurance whether they want it or not, making the government the single, sole payer. The single payer concept means there is no alternative the citizen may choose from, there's no way to redress a wrong. There's no way to seek a different opinion, there's no way to select a doctor you feel more comfortable with or a treatment you prefer. Doctors and patients alike will be under the command of government bureaucrats.
Most important the single payer concept effectively eradicates competition and makes health care into a monopoly. In private enterprise, monopoly doesn't exist for very long because competition eventually finds a way to get a foot into the market---by lowering prices, improving products, offering different products. But a government monopoly is enforced by the gun. A government monopoly guarantees ruinous practices, lower quality goods, decreasing competence and efficacy, higher prices and, therefore, higher taxes. The best example of this is the U. S. Postal System.
The self-employed doctor will be effectively eliminated. Those working at health care facilities, clinics, hospitals and other voluntary associations will be government employees. Without any competition to make money in medicine, loaded down with government paperwork and bureaucratic "watch dogs," doctors will not be able to see as many patients as they might like. They will not be able to improve their skills and discover new treatments or develop better, more effective skills. Without competition to make good money, interest in the field will decline and the quality of care will deteriorate while political pull-peddlers will replace skilled medical personnel.
Do not make the mistake of attributing to this health care plan and its sponsors the currently fashionable bromide of "good intentions with unforeseen consequences." There are no good intentions in this bill. The government knows exactly what it's doing. Here's one telling piece of evidence: All members of Congress and all of their staff will be exempt from the plan.
Like the stimulus bill, Congressional representatives have not read the health care bill. They will vote on it without knowing what they are voting on. And like the stimulus package, it is expected to pass. In 2 weeks.
Please call your representatives in Congress and insist they vote against all the government health care plans pending.
Sylvia Bokor is an artist and writer. You can view her blog at http://sylviabokorcomments.blogspot.com/
Here are 15 things to know about the draft Kennedy-Dodd health bill.
- The Kennedy-Dodd bill would create an individual mandate requiring you to buy a “qualified” health insurance plan, as defined by the government. If you don’t have “qualified” health insurance for a given month, you will pay a new Federal tax. Incredibly, the amount and structure of this new tax is left to the discretion of the Secretaries of Treasury and Health and Human Services (HHS), whose only guidance is “to establish the minimum practicable amount that can accomplish the goal of enhancing participation in qualifying coverage (as so defined).” The new Medical Advisory Council (see #3D) could exempt classes of people from this new tax. To avoid this tax, you would have to report your health insurance information for each month of the prior year to the Secretary of HHS, along with “any such other information as the Secretary may prescribe.”
- The bill would also create an employer mandate. Employers would have to offer insurance to their employees. Employers would have to pay at least a certain percentage (TBD) of the premium, and at least a certain dollar amount (TBD). Any employer that did not would pay a new tax. Again, the amount and structure of the tax is left to the discretion of the Secretaries of Treasury and HHS. Small employers (TBD) would be exempt.
- In the Kennedy-Dodd bill, the government would define a qualified plan:
- All health insurance would be required to have guaranteed issue and renewal, modified community rating, no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, no lifetime or annual limits on benefits, and family policies would have to cover “children” up to age 26.
- A qualified plan would have to meet one of three levels of standardized cost-sharing defined by the government, “gold, silver, and bronze.” Details TBD.
- Plans would be required to cover a list of preventive services approved by the Federal government.
- A qualified plan would have to cover “essential health benefits,” as defined by a new Medical Advisory Council (MAC), appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The MAC would determine what items and services are “essential benefits.” The MAC would have to include items and services in at least the following categories: ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and new born care, medical and surgical, mental health, prescription drugs, rehab and lab services, preventive/wellness services, pediatric services, and anything else the MAC thought appropriate.
- The MAC would also define what “affordable and available coverage” is for different income levels, affecting who has to pay the tax if they don’t buy health insurance. The MAC’s rules would go into effect unless Congress passed a joint resolution (under a fast-track process) to turn them off.
- Health insurance plans could not charge higher premiums for risky behaviors: “Such rate shall not vary by health status-related factors, … or any other factor not described in paragraph (1).” Smokers, drinkers, drug users, and those in terrible physical shape would all have their premiums subsidized by the healthy.
- Guaranteed issue and renewal combined with modified community rating would dramatically increase premiums for the overwhelming majority of those Americans who now have private health insurance. New Jersey is the best example of health insurance mandates gone wild. In the name of protecting their citizens, premiums are extremely high to cover the cross-subsidization of those who are uninsurable.
- The bill would expand Medicaid to cover everyone up to 150% of poverty, with the Federal government paying all incremental costs (no State share). This means adding childless adults with income below 150% of the poverty line.
- People from 150% of poverty up to 500% (!!) would get their health insurance subsidized (on a sliding scale). If this were in effect in 2009, a family of four with income of $110,000 would get a small subsidy. The bill does not indicate the source of funds to finance these subsidies.
- People in high cost areas (e.g., New York City, Boston, South Florida, Chicago, Los Angeles) would get much bigger subsidies than those in low cost areas (e.g., much of the rest of the country, especially in rural areas). The subsidies are calculated as a percentage of the “reference premium,” which is determined based on the cost of plans sold in that particular geographic area
- There would be a “public plan option” of health insurance offered by the federal government. In this new government health plan, the federal government would pay health care providers Medicare rates + 10%. The +10% is clearly intended to attract short-term legislative support from medical providers. I hope they are not so naive that they think that differential would last.
- Group health plans with 250 or fewer members would be prohibited from self-insuring. ERISA would only be for big businesses.
- States would have to set up “gateways” (health insurance exchanges) to market only qualified health insurance plans. If they don’t, the Feds will set up a gateway for them.
- Health insurance plans in existence before the law would not have to meet the new insurance standards. This creates a weird bifurcated system and means you would (probably) be subject to a different set of rules when you change jobs.
- The bill does not specify what spending will be cut or what taxes will be raised to pay for the increased spending. That is presumably for the Finance Committee to determine, since it’s their jurisdiction.
- The bill defines an “eligible individual” as “a citizen or national of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence or an alien lawfully present in the United States.”
- The bill would create a new pot of money for state gateways to pay “navigators” to educate people about the new bill, distribute information about health plans, and help people enroll. Navigators receiving federal funds “may include … unions, …”
This would have severe effects on the more than 100 million Americans who have private health insurance today:
- The government would mandate not only that you must buy health insurance, but what health insurance counts as “qualifying.”
- Health insurance premiums would rise as a result of the law, meaning lower wages.
- A government-appointed board would determine what items and services are “essential benefits” that your qualifying plan must cover.
- You would find a tremendous new disincentive to switch jobs, because your new health insurance may be subject to the new rules and would therefore be significantly more expensive.
- Those who keep themselves healthy would be subsidizing premiums for those with risky or unhealthy behaviors.
- Far more than half of all Americans would be eligible for subsidies, but we have not yet been told who would pay the bill.
- The Secretaries of Treasury and HHS would have unlimited discretion to impose new taxes on individuals and employers who do not comply with the new mandates.
- The Secretary of HHS could mandate that you provide him or her with “any such other information as [he/she] may prescribe.”
I strongly oppose this bill.
Update: If this topic interests you, I highly recommend Jim Capretta’s blog Diagnosis.
swear it was Obama's biography?
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